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The origin stories behind 20 cocktails and how to make them

Raise your glass if you are a fan of cocktails. What makes this alcoholic mixed drink interesting is that there are endless possibilities of making a new cocktail recipe.

There are various combinations of one spirits or more with other ingredients such as syrup, juice or cream.

Do you know that there are official recipes for cocktails? International Bartenders Association (IBA) sanctions a list of official cocktails with official recipes which go along with them.

These cocktails are then selected by the IBA for use in the annual World Cocktail Competition in bartending.

Cocktails are always a good choice if you are looking into diversifying your alcohol consumption.

Here, KajoMag has compiled 20 cocktails along with their origin stories and recipes:

1.Pina Colada

Like most origin stories behind the cocktails on this list, there are several versions of how Pina Colada came about.

The earliest known stories trace back to the 19th century. To boost his crew’s morale, Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresi allegedly gave them a cocktail containing coconut, pineapple and white rum.

This cocktail would later became the famous pina colada. However, this version is often being disputed.

Another version stated that the Caribe Hilton Hotel’s bartender Ramon Maerrero created the drink in 1954.

Meanwhile, a Puerto Rican restaurant claimed that the drink was invented by Spanish bartender Don Ramon Portas Mingot in 1963.

Regardless, Puerto Rico proclaimed Pina Colada as its official drink in 1978.

Served: Frozen
Standard Garnish: Pineapple slice and/or maraschino cherrt
Standard Drinkware: Poco Grande glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 3 cl white rum, 9 cl pineapple juice, 3 cl cream of coconut
Preparation: The first step is to blend all the ingredients with ice in an electric blender. Then, pour into a large goblet and serve with straw.

2.Tequila Sunrise

The original version of Tequila Sunrise comprised of tequila, creme de casssis, lime juice and soda water. It was first served at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in the 1930s or 1940s.

As years passed, the popular version of Tequila Sunrise came along from Sausalito, California in the early 1970s. This version now containstequila, orange juice and grenadine.

When it is served, the cocktail’s gradation colour looks like sunrise, hence the name ‘Tequila Sunrise’.

Served: One the rocks
Standard Garnish: On the rocks
Standard Drinkware: Collins glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 4.5 cl tequila, 9 cl orange juice, 1.5 cl grenadine syrup
Preparation: Pour the tequila and orange juice into glass over ice. Add the grenadine, which will sink into the grenadine. In order to create the sunrise effect, stir the cocktails gently. Finally, garnish and serve.

3.Mai Tai

There are three men who claimed to have invented Mai Tai. Victor J. Bergeron claimed he invented it at his restaurant Trader Vic’s in California in 1944.

However, Trader Vic’s forerunner Donn Beach claimed to invent it first in 1933.

Meanwhile, another colleague of Donn Beach said the drink was based on his Q.B Cooler cocktail.

As for the name, it was allegedly taken from the Tahitian word maita’I meaning good or excellence.

Served: On the rocks
Standard Garnish: Spearmint leaves and lime shell
Standard drinkware: Old Fashioned Glass
IBA specified ingredients: 4 cl white rum, 2 cl dark rum, 1.5 cl orange curacao, 1.5 ck orgeat syrup, 1 cl fresh lime juice. Preparation: Shake all ingredients with ice. Secondly, strain the drink into glass. Garnish and serve with straw.

4.Cosmopolitan

There are so many disputes on the origin of Cosmopolitan that one could do research paper on it.

One version said it came from the gay community in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Another theory stated that the bartender Neal Murray created the drink in 1975 at the Cork & Cleaver steakhouse in Minneapolis.

Basically, the drink is made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and freshly squeezed lime juice.

Served: Straight up
Standard Garnish: Lime slice
Standard Drinkware: Cocktail Glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 4 cl vodka citron, 1.5 cl cointreau, 1.5 cl fresh lime juice. 3 cl cranberry juice
Preparation: Shake all ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice. After that, strain it into a large cocktail glass. Finally, garnish the drink with lime slice.

5.Long Island Tea

The Prohibition in the US took place from 1920 to 1933. That was when a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages.

At that time, there was a man who went by “Old Man Bishop” in a local community named Long Island in Kingsport, Tennessee. The drink was then perfected by Old Man Bishop’s son, Ransom Bishop.

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Their version of drink included whiskey and maple syrup and varied quantities of different kinds of liquors rather than the modern version with one cola and five equal portions of five liquors.

Fast forward 50 years later, a man named Robert Butt claimed to have invented the Long Island Tea during a contest. He was working at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island, New York.

Served: On the rocks
Standard Garnish: Lemon slice
Standard Drinkware: Highball glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 1.5 cl tequila, 1.5 cl vodka, 1.5 cl white rum, 1.5 cl triple sec, 1.5 cl gin, 2.5 cl lemon juice, 3.0 cl simple syrup, top with cola
Preparation: Firstly, add all ingredients into a highball glass filled with ice. Stir gently. Optionally garnish with lemon slice.

6.Margarita

Here is another drink that gained fame during the Prohibition. According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, the margarita is the Daisy cocktail remade with tequila instead of brandy.

The earliest account of margarita was found in 1936 Iowa newspaper.

Margarita can be served shaken with ice (on the rocks), blended with ice (frozen margarita) or without ice (straight up).

While it may be served in a variety of glasses, it is widely known to be served in a margarita glass which is a variant of the classic champagne coupe.

Served: On the rocks
Standard Garnish: Salt on the rim
Standard Drinkware: Margarita glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 3.5 cl tequila, 2 cl Cointreau, 1.5 cl lime juice
Preparation: Pour all ingredients into shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass rimmed with salt.

7.Bloody Mary

The first person claiming to have invented the Bloody Mary is French bartender Fernand Petiot. He was working at the New York Bar in Paris at that time which later became Harry’s New York Bar.

Legend has it that the original cocktail is created on the spur of the moment, consisting of vodka and tomato juice.

After Petiot, there is a handful of other people claiming to have invented the cocktail.

As for the name, “Bloody Mary” is associated with a number of historical figures such as Queen Mary I of England, Hollywood star Mary Pickford as well as a waitress named Mary who worked at Chicago bar called the Bucket of Blood.

Served: On the rocks
Standard Garnish: Celery stalk
Standard Drinkware: Highball glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 3 parts vodka, 6 parts tomato juice, 1 part lemon juice, 2 to 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, celery salt, black pepper
Preparation: Stirring gently, pour all ingredients into highball glass. Garnish.

8.Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre was first originated in the early 20th century in Cuba after the country won independence in the Spanish-American War. While its exact origins is uncertain, the drink became popular shortly after 1900 when bottle Coca Cola was first imported into Cuba from the US.

Traditionally, it is made using rum and coke hence the alternate name Rum and Coke. The coke ingredient is usually Coca-Cola and the alcohol is a light rum such as Bacardi.

The drinks’ traditional name, “Cuba Libre” (Free Cuba) was the slogan of the Cuban Independence movement.

Since it is simple and inexpensive to make, it is one of the most common and classic cocktails drink out there.

Served: On the rocks
Standard Garnish: Lime wedge
Standard Drinkware: Highball glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 12 cl Cola, 5 white rum and 1 cl Fresh lime juice
Preparation: Build all ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with Lime Juice

9.Daiquiri

Daiquiri is the name of a beach as well as an iron mine near Santiago de Cuba. It was believed that the drink was invented by an American mining engineer named Jennings Cox. He was in Cuba at the time during the Spanish-American War.

Served: Straight up
Standard Drinkware: Cocktail glass
IBA Specified ingredients: 6 cl white rum, 2 cl lime juice, 2 bar spoons superfine sugar
Preparation: In a cocktail shaker add all ingredients. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Add ice and shake. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

10.Mojito

Known as author Ernest Hemingway’s favourite drink, this is one of the most famous rum-based cocktails out there. It came from Havana, Cuba with its exact origin still remain subject of debate.

Some historians believed that African slaves who worked in the Cuban sugar cane fields during the 19th century came up with the basic of the drinks.

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However, the original version of the drink did not contain lime juice.

There are several theories behind the origin of the name mojito. One theory stated that it relates to mojo, a Cuban seasoning made from lime. Another theory is that it is a derivative of mojadito (Spanish for a little wet).

Served: On the rocks
Standard Garnish: Sprig of mint, lemon slice
Standard Drinkware: Collins glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 4 cl white rum, 3 cl fresh lime juice. 6 sprigs of mint, 2 teaspoons sugar/sugar syrup, soda water
Preparation: Muddle mint leaves with sugar and lime juice. Add a splash of soda water and fill the glass with cracked ice. Pour the rum and top with soda water. Garnish with sprig of mint leaves and lemon slice. Serve with straw.

11.Mint Julep

One of the earliest records describing the cocktails was found in a book by John Davis in 1803.

Mint julep was described as “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.”

Generally, the cocktail is associated with southern American cuisine.

Served: On the rocks
Standard Garnish: Mint sprig
Standard Drinkware: Highball glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 6cl Bourbon whiskey, 4 mint leaves, 1 teaspoon powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons water
Preparation: In a highball glass gently muddle the mint, sugar and water. Fill the glass with cracked ice, add Bourbon and stir well until the glass is well frosted. Garnish with a mint sprig.

12.Sex on the Beach

It is not known on how or who invented the drink Sex on The Beach. While the name is provocative for a drink, it is also unknown on how the name came about.

There are several variations of Sex on the Beach. For examples grenadine is used in replace of cranberry juice and coconut rum is often substituted for the vodka.

Served: On the rocks
Standard Garnish: Orange slice
Standard Drinkware: Highball glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 4 cl vodka, 2 cl peach schnapps, 4 cl orange juice, 4 cl cranberry juice
Preparation: Build all ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with orange slice.

13.Singapore Sling

Here is a cocktail which has a Sarawak essence in it. There are few so called original recipes for Singapore Sling. One version is made by mixing two measures of gin with one of cherry brandy and one each of orange, pineapple and lime juice.

Another version is to have gin, Cherry Heering, Benedictine and fresh pineapple juice primary from Sarawak.

This gin-based cocktail was developed sometime before 1915 by a Hainanese bartender named Ngiam Tong Boon. At that time, he was working at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, Singapore.

Classic Singapore Sling

Served: Straight up
Standard Garnish: Maraschino cherry, lemon slice
Standard Drinkware: Highball glass
Commonly used ingredients: 2.5 cl gin, 4.5 cl cherry brandy, 1.5 cl fresh lemon juice, 20 cl soda water
Preparation: Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain into highball glass or tumbler. Optionally add one or two cubes. However, do not flood the drink with ice. Garnish with lemon slice and cocktail cherry.

American Singapore Sling

Served: Straight up
Standard Garnish: Maraschino cherry, pineapple
Standard Drinkware: Hurricane glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 3 cl gin, 1.5 cherry brandy, 0.75 cl cointreau, 0.75 cl Benedictine, 1 cl grenadine, 12 cl pineapple juice, 1.5 cl fresh lime juice, 1 dash Angostura bitters
Preparation: Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. After that, shake it well. Strain into highball glass. Finally, garnish the drink with pineapple and cocktail cherry.

14.Kamikaze

Although the name is Japanese, this cocktail does not come from Japan. According to cocktail historian, Kamikaze first appeared in 1976. Richard Stein, the proprietor of Richard’s Lounge in Lakewood, New Jersey was the one who created it.

Served: Straight up
Standard Garnish: Lime slice
Standard Drinkware: Cocktail glass
Commonly Used Ingredients: Shake all ingredients together with ice. Then, strain the drink into glass, garnish and serve.

15.Mimosa

Named after the yellow-flowered mimosa plant (Acacia dealbata), this cocktail is traditionally served in a tall champagne flute at weddings or in a business class on airlines. It is a simple cocktail of combining orange juice and champagne.

Moreover, this concept of combining sparkling wine and orange juice is commonly found in Spain for centuries.

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Another variation of mimosa is by replacing champagne with vodka and orange juice with cranberry juice.

Served: Straight up
Standard Garnish: Orange juice
Standard Drinkware: Champagne flute
IBA Specified Ingredients: 7.5 cl champagne, 7.5 orange juice
Preparation: Ensure both ingredients are well chilled, then mix into the glass. Serve it cold.

16.Irish Coffee

One of the many people who claimed to have invented the Irish Coffee is Joe Sheridan. He was the head chef at the restaurant and coffee shop in the Foyness Airbase flying boat terminal building, Ireland.

He started to add whiskey to the coffee for some disembarking passengers in 1942 or 1943.

Served: Hot
Standard Drinkware: Irish coffee mug
IBA Specified Ingredients: 4 cl Irish whiskey, 8 cl hot coffee, 3 cl fresh cream, 1tsp brown sugar.
Preparation: Firstly, heat the coffee, whiskey and sugar. However, do not boil it. Pour into glass and top with cream, serve hot.

17.Manhattan

The most history suggests that this cocktail originated from the Manhattan Club in New York City in the mid-1870s.

However, there is another earlier account stating that the drink was invented in the 1860s by a bartender named Black at a bar near Houston Street, downtown Manhattan.

While this cocktail is originated from the US, it is a standard drink at almost every eatery and bar on the small island of Fohr on the German coast of the North Sea.

Legend has it that many people from Fohr emigrated to Manhattan during deep sea fishing trips. They liked the drink so much that they brought it back to Fohr with them.

Served: Straight up
Standard Garnish: Maraschino cherry
Standard Drinkware: Cocktail glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 5 cl rye whiskey, 2 cl sweet red vermouth, dash Angostura bitters
Preparation: Stirred over ice, strained into chilled glass, garnish, and served up.

18.Martini

American journalist H.L. Mencken called it the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet. Meanwhile, American writer called it the elixir of quietude.

Martini has become one of the best American cocktails, widely known for its olive garnish.

As for its origins, many believed that it evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco.

Another theory is that the drink was invented by a bartender from the town of Martinez, California.

Served: Straight up or on the rocks
Standard Garnish: Olive or lemon twist
Standard Drinkware: Cocktail glass
IBA Specified Ingredients: 6 cl gin, 1 cl dry vermouth
Preparation: Pour all ingredients into mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain into chilled martini cocktail glass. Lastly, squeeze oil from lemon peel onto the drink or garnish with olive.

19.French 75

During the 19th century, the Champagne Cup was a popular cocktail. It consists of champagne, lemon juice, sugar and ice. However, sometimes gin was added giving birth a drink similar to French 75.

The current version of French 75 is believed to date back to World War I. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun, hence the name French 75.

Served: Straight up
Straight Drinkware: Champagne flute
IBA Specified Ingredients: 2 cl gin, 2 dashes simple syrup, 1.5 cl lemon juice, 6 cl champagne
Preparation: Combine gin, syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into chilled champagne glass. Top up with champagne. Finally, stir it gently.

20.Moscow Mule

Sometimes known as a vodka buck, Moscow Mule is a cocktail with so many variations depending on the liquors used.

For examples, if bourbon is used then the drink is called a Kentucky mule. If bourbon and coffee liquer are used, then it is called a New Orleans mule. Mexican mule for instance is when a tequila is used.

Unlike other cocktails on this list, this cocktail is properly served in a copper mug which takes on the temperature of the liquid.

Served: On the rocks
Standard Garnish: Lime slice
Standard Drinkware: Copper mug
IBA Specified Ingredients: 4.5 cl vodka, 0.5 cl lime juice, 12 cl ginger beer
Preparation: Combine vodka and ginger in a glass filled with ice. Then, add lime juice. Stir gently. Garnish.

Share in the comment box which ones are your favourites cocktails!

All photos and illustrations are from pixabay.com

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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